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PREVIEW: Otago v Manawatu

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Thursday, August 31, 2017    allblacks.com    Getty Images

Match details: Otago v Manawatu, Saturday 2 September, 2.35pm, Forsyth-Barr Stadium, Dunedin. TICKETS.

Played: 41 (1905-2016). Otago wins: 21, Manawatu wins: 14, Draws: 6

FORM
Otago might be winless after two rounds but they could have just as easily been unbeaten. After coming up just short against North Harbour in the opening round, Otago lead in large parts of a Ranfurly Shield challenge against Canterbury before succumbing 30-24. Manawatu showed some promising attacking signs in a 41-29 loss to Wellington before overpowering Tasman 35-20 last week. 

QUICK TAP: WELLINGTON TOO GOOD FOR BAY OF PLENTY IN THE WET

ALL BLACKS BOOST
Manawatu have been given a big boost by the inclusion of All Blacks Nehe Milner-Skudder and Ngani Laumape in their backline for the Otago clash. While Milner-Skudder and Laumape will provide an extra level of firepower for the Turbos, they boast plenty of other threats in playmaker Otere Black, hard-running Kurt Baker at fullback and speedster Ambrose Curtis on the left wing. Expect Manawatu to make full use of their exciting backline under the roof at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
50 UPFRONT
Otago will have added incentive upfront with hooker Sam Anderson-Heather and prop Aki Seiuli playing their 50th game for Otago. The experienced duo will be joined by the powerful Hisa Sasagi in an imposing front row. Manawatu answer back with powerhouse Crusaders prop Michael Alaalatoa in the number three jersey, Hunter Prescott at hooker and Fraser Armstrong at loosehead.

THE SCOOP
Otago have only just been off the pace in their opening two matches and will be cautious of not falling too far behind the pack early in the season. Manawatu will be buoyed by the inclusion of Milner-Skudder and Laumpae and eager to make the most of a hard and fast Forsyth-Barr track. Like Otago’s first two games, this could go either way but Otago’s desperation may give them the slight edge.

TEAMS

Otago: Vilimoni Koroi, Mitchell Scott, Sio Tomkinson, Tei Walden, Jona Nareki, Josh Ioane, Jonathan Ruru, Adam Knight, James Lentjes, Dillon Hunt, Josh Dickson, Josh Furno, Hisa Sasagi, Sam Anderson-Heather (captain), Aki Seiuli. Reserves: Sekonaia Pole, Craig Millar, Donald Brighouse, Tom Rowe, Sione Teu, Josh Renton, Fletcher Smith, Leroy van Dam.

Manawatu: Kurt Baker, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Hamish Northcott, Ngani Laumape, Ambrose Curtis, Otere Black, Kayne Hammington, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis (captain), Antonio Kiri Kiri, Nick Crosswell, Jackson Hemopo, Tom Parsons, Michael Alaalatoa, Hunter Prescott, Fraser Armstrong. Reserves: Tim Cadwallader, Tuki Raimona, Sean Paranihi, Liam Hallam-Eames, Brice Henderson, Jamie Booth, Jade Te Rure, Lewis Marshall.